With less than 10 days left for the publication of final draft of the NRC, the Central government has sanctioned the first stand-alone detention camp for foreigners in Assam.
The camp will be set up in Goalpara district over a period of one year and at a cost of Rs 46 crore, ET reported.
“This will be the first stand-alone detention camp with capacity of 3,500 persons,” the newspaper quoted LS Changson, the principal secretary of Assam home and political department, as saying.
Currently, there are six detention camps operating in the state but these are operating within jail premises and have around 1,000 detainees.
It will be qualitatively different from the prisons that did duty as detention centres, Changson said.
“Detention centres are a stop-gap arrangement until the person is sent back to wherever they are from,” Changson was quoted as saying by Scroll.
There were recent protests organised by groups demanding the closure of the existing detention camps in Assam.
Opposition Congress has raised calls for allowing legal assistance to detainees lodged in these camps so that they are able to prove their citizenship.
Congress leader and former minister, Pradyut Bordoloi said that the government should look into the charges of human rights violation in these detention camps.
“Most of the time it has been found that these poor and illiterate persons were not aware of the fact that they had to physically appear before the foreigner tribunals on time when they were summoned. As a result they were declared foreigners. There are allegations that these people are then dragged to detention camps. Recent incidents like 102-year old Chandradhar Das and Anna Bala Ray are really unfortunate and painful,” Bordoloi said.
A 50-year-old Anna Bala Ray, who is a woman from Chirang district, is among those who have been detained and put in one of these detention camps.
Ray was eventually released on bail after her family submitted a petition to the tribunal, requesting for an opportunity to prove her citizenship.